Present perfect и past

A. Study this example situation:


Tom is looking for his key. He can’t find it. He has lost his key. (present perfect)

This means that he doesn’t have his key now.

Ten minutes later:


Now Tom has found his key. He has it now. Has he lost his key? (present perfect) No, he hasn’t. He has found it.

Did he lose his key? (past simple} Yes, he did.

He lost his key (past simple) but now he has found it. (present perfect)


The present perfect is a present tense. It always tells us something about now. ‘Tom has lost his key’ = he doesn’t have his key now.

The past simple tells us only about the past. If somebody says ‘Tom lost his key’, we don’t know whether he has it now or not. We only know that he lost it at some time in the past.


Two more examples:


  • Jack grew a beard but now he has shaved it off. (so he doesn’t have a beard now)
  • They went out after lunch and they’ve just come back. (so they are back now)


B. Do not use present perfect if there is no connection with the present (for example, things that happened a long time ago):


  • The Chinese invented printing, (not ‘have invented’)
  • How many plays did Shakespeare write? (not ‘has Shakespeare written’)
  • Beethoven was a great composer, (not ‘has been’)




  • Shakespeare wrote many plays.
  • My sister is a writer. She has written many books, (she still writes books)

C. We use the present perfect to give new information. But if we continue to talk about it, we normally use the past simple


  • A: Ow! I’ve burnt myself.
  • B: How did you do that? (not ‘have you done’)
  • A: I picked up a hot dish. (not ‘have picked’)


  • A: Look! Somebody has spilt milk on the carpet.
  • B: Well, it wasn’t me. I didn’t do it. (not ‘hasn’t been_haven’t done’)
  • A: I wonder who it was then. (not ‘who it has been’)



1 What has happened in these situations?


  1. Jack had a beard. Now he hasn’t got a beard.He has shaved off his beard
  2. Linda was here five minutes ago. Now she’s in bed. She____________________________________
  3. The temperature was 25 degrees. Now it is only 17. The temperature_________________________
  4. The light was off. Now it is on. Somebody ________________________________________________
  5. The tree was only three meters high. Now it is four. The tree ________________________________
  6. The plane was on the runway a few minutes ago. Now it is in the air.The plane___________________

2 Put the verbs in brackets in the correct form, present perfect or past simple.


  1. ‘Where’s your key?’  ‘I don’t know. I ‘ve lost it.’ (lose)
  2. I _was_ very tired, so I lay down on the bed and went to sleep, (be)
  3. Mary _________________________ to Australia for a while but she’s back again now. (go)
  4. ‘Where’s Ken?’   ‘He ________________________ out. He’ll be back in about an hour.’ (go)
  5. I did German at school but I_________________________ most of it. (forget)
  6. I meant to phone Diane last night but I__________________________ (forget)
  7. I_________________________ a headache earlier but I feel fine now. (have)
  8. Look! There’s an ambulance over there. There ________________________ an accident, (be)
  9. They’re still building the new road. They _________________________ it. (not/finish)
  10. ‘Is Helen still here?’   ‘No, she _________________________ out.’ (just/go)
  11. The police _________________________ three people but later they let them go. (arrest)
  12. Ann ____________________ me her address but I’m afraid L___________________ it. (give, lose)
  13. Where’s my bike? It________…_______ outside the house. It______________! (be, disappear)
  14. What do you think of my English? Do you think I_________________________? (improve)

3 Are the underlined parts of these sentences right or wrong? Correct the ones that are wrong.


  1. Do you know about Sue? She's given up her job____________________________________________
  2. The Chinese have invented printing. _____________________________________________________
  3. How many plays has Shakespeare written?________________________________________________
  4. Have you read any of Shakespeare's plays? _______________________________________________
  5. Aristotle has been a Greek philosopher____________________________________________________
  6. Ow! I've cut my finger. It's bleeding. ______________________________________________________
  7. My grandparents have got married in London. ______________________________________________
  8. Where have you been born? _____________________________________________________________
  9. Mary isn't at home. She's gone shopping____________________________________________________
  10. Albert Einstein has been the scientist who has developed the theory of relativity___________________

4  Put the verb into the most suitable form, present perfect or past simple.


  • A: Look! Somebody _has. spilt_ (spill) coffee on the carpet.
  • B: Well, it _wasn’t_ (not/be) me. I _didn’t do_ (not/do) it.
  • A: Ben _________________________ (break) his leg.
  • B: Really? How _________________________ (that/happen)?
  • A: He _________________________ (fall) off a ladder.
  • A: Your hair looks nice__________________________ (you/have) a haircut?
  • B: Yes.
  • A: Who ____________________ (cut) it? ___________________ (you/go) to the hairdresser?
  • B: No, a friend of mine _________________________ (do) it for me.

A. Do not use the present perfect (I have done) when you talk about a finished time (for example, yesterday / ten minutes ago / in 1985 / when I was a child). Use a past tense:


  • The weather was nice yesterday, (not ‘has been nice’)
  • They arrived ten minutes ago. (not ‘have arrived’)
  • I ate a lot of sweets when I was a child, (not ‘have eaten’)
  • A: Did you see the news on television last night? (not ‘Have you seen’)
    B: No, I went to bed early, (not ‘have gone’)

Use a past tense to ask When_? or What time_?:


  • When did they arrive? (not ‘have they arrived’)
  • What time did you finish work?



Present perfect


  • Tom has lost his key. He can’t get into the house.


Here, we are not thinking of the past action. We are thinking of the present result of the action:
Tom doesn’t have his key now.


Past simple


  • Tom lost his key yesterday. He couldn’t get into the house.


Here, we are thinking of the action in the past. We don’t know from this sentence whether Tom has his key now.

B. Compare present perfect and past:


Present perfect (have done)


  • I’ve done a lot of work today.
  • We use the present perfect for a period of time that continues from the past until now.
  • For example, today, this week, since 1985.
  • It hasn’t rained this week.
  • Have you seen Ann this morning? (it is still morning)
  • Have you seen Ann recently?
  • I don’t know where Ann is. I haven’t seen her. (= I haven’t seen her recently)
  • We’ve been waiting for an hour. (we are still waiting now)
  • Ian lives in London. He has lived there for seven years.
  • I have never played golf. (in my life)


The present perfect always has a connection with now.


Past simple (did)


  • I did a lot of work yesterday.
  • We use the past simple for a finished time in the past.
  • For example, yesterday, last week, from 1985 to 1991.
  • It didn’t rain last week.
  • Did you see Ann this morning? (it is now afternoon or evening)
  • Did you see Ann on Sunday?
  • A: Was Ann at the party on Sunday?
  • B: I don’t think so. I didn’t see her.
  • We waited (or were waiting) for an hour. (we are no longer waiting)
  • Ian lived in Scotland for ten years. Now he lives in London.
  • I didn’t play golf when I was on holiday last summer.


The past simple tells us only about the past.




1 Are the underlined parts of these sentences right or wrong? Correct the ones that are wrong.


  1. I’ve lost my key. I can’t find it anywhere. ___________________________________________
  2. Have you seen the news on television last night? ___________________________________________
  3. I’ve bought a new car. Do you want to see it? ___________________________________________
  4. I’ve bought a new car last week. ________________________________________________________
  5. Where have you been yesterday evening?________________________________________________
  6. Jenny has left school in 1991. __________________________________________________________
  7. I’m looking for Mike. Have you seen him? _____________________________________________
  8. I’m very hungry. I haven’t eaten anything today. ________________________________________
  9. Diane hasn’t been at work yesterday____________________________________________________
  10. When has this book been published?____________________________________________________

2 Make sentences from the words in brackets. Use the present perfect or past simple.


  1. (it / not / rain / this week) ___________________________________________ _________
  2. the weather / be / cold / recently)   The weather _________________________________________
  3. (it / cold / last week)    It ______________________________________________________________
  4. (I / not / read / a newspaper yesterday)   I________________________________________________
  5. (I / not / read / a newspaper today)    _____________________________________________________
  6. (Ann / earn / a lot of money / this year)    ________________________________________________
  7. (she / not / earn / so much / last year)    __________________________________________________
  8. (you / have / a holiday recently?)    _______________________________________________________

3 Put the verb into the correct form, present perfect or past simple


  1. I don’t know where Amy is. _ ____________________________(you/see) her?
  2. When I______(get) home last night, I_________ (be)  very tired and I__________(go) straight to bed.
  3. Your car looks very clean. _________________________ (you/wash) it?
  4. George _________________________ (not/be) very well last week.
  5. Mr Clark ________________________ (work) in a bank for 15 years. Then he gave it up.
  6. Molly lives in Dublin. She _________________________ (live) there all her life.
  7. «____________ (you/go) to the cinema last night?»   ‘Yes, but it _______ (be) a mistake. The film ________ (be) awful.’
  8. My grandfather _____……___ (die) 30 years ago. I______________________(never/meet) him.
  9. I don’t know Carol’s husband. I_________________________ (never/meet/him).

A: Is your father at home?
B: No, I’m afraid he _________________________ (go) out.
A: When exactly _________________________ (he/go) out?
B: About ten minutes ago.

A: Where do you live?
B: In Boston.
A: How long _________________________ (you/live) there?
B: Five years.
A: Where _________________________ (you/live) before that?
B: In Chicago.
A: And how long ________________________ (you/live) in Chicago?
B: Two years.

4 Write sentences about yourself using the ideas in brackets.


  1. (something you haven’t done today) __________________________________________________
  2. (something you haven’t done today) __________________________________________________
  3. (something you didn’t do yesterday) __________________________________________________
  4. something you did yesterday evening) ________________________________________________
  5. (something you haven’t done recently) ________________________________________________
  6. (something you’ve done a lot recently) ________________________________________________